BILLINGS — U.S. Sen. Steve Daines of Montana is calling on the U.S. Postal Service to review and correct policy after a Billings veteran’s remains were lost in the mail.
Daines recently sent a letter to the USPS inspector general asking for an in-depth investigation into the matter, which took place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Billings veteran Donald Tyler died from COVID-19 while traveling with his wife Christine Tyler overseas in March. Don was a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam and made a career working as a federal law enforcement officer.
Last month, Christine finally received her late husband’s ashes delivered to her home in Billings by her local postman, but not before weeks of angst surrounding where the remains might be.
She spent weeks trying to find the remains after her husband died in a hospital in Spain and she opted to have him delivered back home with military honors. She also contacted the offices of both Montana’s U.S. senators, Daines and Jon Tester, for help.
Both Daines and Tester were active in pushing postal officials to find the missing urn.
But when the urn arrived back in Christine’s arms, it was badly broken. She says the remains were shipped to the United States from Spain but were lost somewhere in Chicago once the package entered the United States.
In a statement Tuesday from Daines’ office, he said the whole ordeal is unacceptable, calling out the federal agency for misplacing human remains.
He’s asked that a thorough investigation now be done, as well as any necessary actions to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.
“While his remains were eventually returned to Mrs. Tyler and the USPS will reimburse her for the damaged urn, it is unacceptable that a federal agency misplaced the human remains of an American citizen,” Daines said in a statement. “I urge you to conduct a full and thorough investigation into this matter to identify the cause and identify any reforms necessary to ensure that a similar incident does not occur again.”
The urn was located at a USPS facility in Chicago last month.
Daines has told the family he’s securing military honors for Don’s burial, which Christine says she has planned for late July.